I can grow fresh produce all year long with this indoor planter and it's faster than growing in my greenhouse
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- Lettuce Grow is an indoor garden that uses water to grow fresh veggies no matter the season.
- Thanks to grow lights and Lettuce Grow nutrients, my plants were ready to harvest in about a month.
- The system is expensive, but the garden can last years so you can grow much of what you eat.
The farmstand comes in five different sizes (it starts at 12 plants and goes up to 36) and takes just a few square feet of floor space. I tested a 24-plant Lettuce Grow with grow lights knowing that my space can be dim. The garden takes up about two square feet and needs to be plugged in at all times, so I placed it in a corner with room to spare on the sides. It’s compact enough that even someone in a studio apartment can grow fresh veggies.
The Lettuce Grow gardens come with clear instructions, though there aren’t many pieces. There’s a base, water pumps, tiered planters, and optional grow lights, and it’s relatively quick to put together. The longest part of the process was filling the water reservoir, which took nearly 20 minutes with a one-liter watering can. If you’re able, filling it from a hose would be much quicker and less labor-intensive.
I received seedlings for leafy greens, herbs, broccoli, and sweet pea after taking the online quiz and they arrived separately in a small, well-protected box with suggestions on where to place each plant. From personal experience, I suggest putting dog-friendly plants on the lower rows — just in case.
Once your seedlings are in, maintenance is minimal. Weekly tasks include making sure you have enough water in the tank, adding nutrients, and doing a straightforward pH test. If your pH level is too low, you don’t have to do anything beyond adding a scoop of the included “pH Up” or “pH down” chemical.
While using grow lights, be sure to check your plants every few days to make sure the leaves aren’t directly pressing against the lights. If they’re touching for an extended period of time, you might get small burn marks on your leaves. One or two days won’t matter, but you don’t want the leaves to be touching the lights for too long.
Review of Lettuce Grow
My plants grew on an expedited schedule. In less than two weeks, herbs were ready to pick and toss in cocktails, and in roughly three weeks, greens like kale and lettuce were ready to harvest. Green beans and sweet peas developed in less than a month, and at five weeks, small green peppers began sprouting from blossoms. Sweet peas and most lettuce leaves take about 50-70 days to harvest from seedlings, so the farmstand cut the average growing time nearly in half.
Of my 24 plants, 22 did well. The broccoli and spinach-like koji tatsoi didn’t take off. According to the Lettuce Grow team, likely causes could be getting too much sun or possibly the climate where I live.
While I can’t speculate on how my plants would have done without the grow lights, I have some of the same plants in my greenhouse and the Lettuce Grow plants matured much faster. I’m growing kale, tomatoes, and green beans in my outdoor greenhouse, and the green beans in the farmstand have eclipsed the greenhouse plants despite being planted nearly two months earlier.
The nutrient blend might’ve also helped, but I can’t credit the fact that my plants are successfully growing in a dark corner of my home to nutrients alone. While they’re a bit pricey, the lights are probably worth it to ensure consistent growing year-round. Even in a well-lit house, seasonal changes in sunlight will render some crops ungrowable without supplemental lighting. You can always buy them later if you find the sunny corner of your home isn’t as sunny as you thought.
Cons to consider
The most obvious downside is the price — my 24-plant system is $500, plus another $200 or so for the glow rings. While I found this price overkill at first, the garden is high quality and the pumps and timers are more high-tech than I initially expected. If you’re on the fence, try the smallest 12-plant system — it’s about the same as other comparable-sized indoor gardens from AeroGarden.
Depending on your sensitivity, the sound of the water pump could be too loud. It sounds like a quiet indoor water fountain so it’s no problem if you’re chatting or watching TV, but some people might find the sound tiresome — especially when the hydroponic watering system is scheduled to run every 15 minutes or so. The glow rings are also extremely bright; I wouldn’t use them in a studio apartment unless I had a thick sleeping mask.
Note that the farmstand doesn’t have any way to label the different plants. Though the accompanying Lettuce Grow app can ID plants with a quick photo, I found it more helpful to take a handmade chart near the farmstand.
Should you buy it?
Yes, it’s a fun way to grow your own veggies if you live in an area with a short harvesting season.
I love gardening, and the lack of liveable year-round space where I live isn’t ideal. But with Lettuce Grow, it doesn’t matter if my backyard is covered in snow for six months out of a year — I can still grow fresh veggies for salads and sides. It’s not cheap, but if it’s within your budget, the farmstand can bring you joy and healthy eating.
What are your alternatives?
As much as I’m enjoying my Lettuce Grow system, there are a few great alternatives, including ones from our guide to the best indoor gardens.
If you’re tight on budget, consider the MiracleGro AeroGardens. These countertop hydroponic systems are less expensive and there are various systems that fit different budgets.
Another option with the same futuristic look as the Lettuce Grow system is Gardyn. It sits flat against the wall and, when connected to Wi-Fi, can update you on how your plants are doing and when it’s time to harvest. It’s similar to Lettuce Grow, though more expensive and with only one garden size available at $900. Lettuce Grow has 200 plant varieties available, while Gardyn seedlings are limited to 30 varieties. Most of which are herbs but you can buy cups for your own seeds.
The bottom line
I love my Lettuce Grow Farmstand so much so that I used to get excited when people came over and saw it. The futuristic stand grows plants vertically and hydroponically, using a small pump to continuously keep the plant roots damp and without the messiness of soil. If you have a family, it’s also an excellent project for kids to introduce them both to sustainable gardening and simple responsibilities.
It’s definitely a splurge-worthy purchase for home gardeners, but it’s easy to use and you’ll likely be using it for years because it only needs water and seeds.
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